WASHINGTON, D.C. – The America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 released by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works includes several of Senator Rob Portman’s bipartisan initiatives to protect the Great Lakes and prioritize upgrades to water infrastructure.
“We must ensure that America’s water infrastructure keeps up with the needs of local communities and helps protect our Great Lakes, and this bipartisan legislation makes important progress on both goals,” Portman (R-OH) said. “This bill provides the resources necessary to upgrade our water infrastructure around the country, as well as increasing the resources available to protect our Great Lakes from invasive species and coastal erosion while conserving and restoring fish and wildlife populations. I’m glad my bipartisan initiatives were included in the legislation that was released by the Committee. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.”
The America’s Water Infrastructure Act includes the following Portman-led initiatives:
The legislation requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete its Chief’s Report for the Brandon Road Study by February 2019, which will help keep Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes and protect the $7 billion fishing industry in the Great Lakes. Portman has been a leader in urging the Corps to complete its Chief’s Report by early 2019.
The legislation authorizes the Corps to conduct a Great Lakes coastal resiliency study. The study, a first of its kind for the Great Lakes, will coordinate a strategy across the Great Lakes states to help protect the Great Lakes’ 5,200-mile coastline. The coastline is imperative to a robust economy and tourism industry because the Great Lakes supports a $17.3 billion maritime economy and a $14 billion recreation and tourism industry.
The measure includes Portman’s legislation with Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act. This legislation would provide local communities with flexibility to prioritize investments in wastewater and storm water projects that are necessary to comply with the Clean Water Act. The bill also promotes the use of green infrastructure and requires EPA to update its guidance and expand the criteria for determining the ability for households to pay utility bills.
The legislation increases the authorization level for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) from $300 million in FY 2018 to $330 million in FY 2019, $360 million in FY 2020, and $390 million in FY 2021. Portman led efforts to successfully reauthorize the GLRI program for five years as part of the Water Infrastructure Improvement for the Nation (WIIN) Act of 2016. GLRI is a results-driven program to address the most serious threats to the Great Lakes, including invasive species, pollution, and toxic contamination.
Finally, the measure increases the authorization level for the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act, legislation that Senator Portman authored with Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), which was signed into law as part of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act. The bill increases the authorization from $6 million for FY 2016-FY 2021 to $6.6 million in FY 2019, $7.2 million in FY 2020, and $7.8 million for FY 2021.The bill provides critical resources to conserve and restore fish and wildlife populations in the Great Lakes.
Portman has championed numerous pieces of legislation to protect and preserve clean drinking water and the health of Lake Erie. Portman received a Clean Water Award from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) for his efforts, and has worked diligently to make drinking water safe for all Ohioans, protect Lake Erie from dredged materials, harmful algal blooms, harmful plastic microbeads and invasive species, and more.
This article originally ran in our sister publication, the Portsmouth Daily Times.